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The Office of the Electoral Commission, (OEC) in Samoa is replacing re-polling form to address alleged tampering to influence voters by campaign committee members.
“Voters from two electoral constituencies have personally registered their grave concerns that campaign officials are paying out cash for their votes as pre-poll voters,” Prime Minister and HRPP Leader Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi announced on his weekly TV Live Stream programme.
He said voters have also identified the offenders as campaigners for the FAST Political Party.
Subsequently in recent days, OEC has received similar grievances from more than 20 voters.
And to immediately put a stop to the unlawful practice, OEC has suspended the pre-polling process. As for the complaints, they are not registered and will be dealt later as OEC is pressing forward with its pre-general election preparations.
The suspension effective from Wednesday 17 February 2021 will allow the Electoral Commissioner to redesign the pre-polling application form. By Monday 22 February 2021, OEC staff will distribute the new pre poll form to process eligible pre-polling voters for review and approval by Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.
The change in tactics is to ensure that voters eligible to pre-poll and their rights to choose who to vote for are not compromised, said the Electoral Commissioner.
Once approved, the pre-poll voters will have four days from 05 Monday April to Thursday 08 April 2021 to cast their ballots.
Inducing or influencing voters is classified as bribery prescribed by the Electoral Act 2019. It is punishable by a prison term of not less than two years but not more than five years or a fine of not less than $2,000 (US$797.60) but not more than $5,000 (US$1,990) or both.
SOURCE: SAVALI NEWSPAPER/PACNEWS
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